Meanwhile, Off-Stage…

A little-known- but not difficult to believe- fact about me is that I love theater productions.  Growing up, my parents took us to broadway-style productions like “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Texas,” and “Hello, Dolly” at the Moody Outdoor Theater in Galveston.  And I loved it!

So, in junior high, I took drama.  I learned how to do stage makeup… how to not upstage someone… the difference between stage right and stage left. I even starred in “Death of a Salesman” in our eighth grade production.

My love for stage production never waned. In high school, I portrayed the candidate for my opposing political viewpoint in a mock debate for our schoolwide mock election.  In college, I found joy in running lights and handling props. And I’ve also enjoyed my fair share of parts in Easter or Christmas productions at churches where I’ve attended.

Those who know me know that my happy place… the place where I often feel most comfortable and in my sweet spot… is on the stage, in the spotlight.  But life is not made up of only “on-stage” moments.  There are times when we must be “off-stage.”

In all the drama stuff I have done over the years, I recall that being off-stage required work as well as on-stage moments.  It takes quiet focus… staying connected with what was happening on-stage, all the while changing costumes, grabbing props for myself or others, etc. in order to be ready for the next scene in which I would be involved on-stage. Just because people can’t see that you are doing something at the moment doesn’t mean that you aren’t.
King Solomon revealed in the book of Ecclesiastes a truth which the Beattles would thousands of years later make popular… “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under Heaven.”  That means there are on-stage moments as well as off-stage moments in our lives.
What we need to realize is that, just because we might not be on the stage right now in our life’s production, does not mean we are not still part of the cast. In the meantime, wait patiently in the shadows off-stage and prepare for what is next. Know that what you are doing off-stage may not be seen at the moment, but people will be able to tell that you have been actively engaged when you enter the lighted stage once more.

Your next scene is coming up!  The director is going to call your name and tell you to get ready to go on.  You will once again be in the spotlight where people can see your participation.  Serve quietly now and you will shine brightly later.

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Enough For Today

Anne Shirley Cuthbert says to her friend Diana in Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes yet?”  I don’t recall Diana’s response, but I know mine… YES!!!

As a self-professed guy who tries to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, do right, be good, help others, love and lead his family, and the list goes on… I for one am glad that each day the sun rises and brings with it a fresh start. Sure, I cannot undo my yesterdays, but I can choose each day to point myself in the right direction and start heading that way.

I resonate with Anne’s question. It reminds me of what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in the Old Testament book of Lamentations… “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  In other words, no matter how yesterday went, the Lord loves us and gives us hope for today.  He helps us today.  He forgives and forgets.

That’s good news for imperfect people like me… and maybe you.  It’s good news for those who have a lot of days left. And it’s good news for those who have less days ahead of them than they do behind them. Each day is full of new, abundant mercies for all of us.

Bad day at work yesterday? Get up, get dressed and go back to the office or store or worksite because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Feeling like a lousy parent for mishandling a situation with your kids at a crucial moment?  Roll out of bed, give them a hug, and ask their forgiveness because He has new mercies for today!

Broken relationships that have remained shattered for years due to your negligence? Make the call, send the text, get together for coffee because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Failed a test at school?  Load your backpack, grab your books and get there before the bell rings again because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Staring at a bad prognosis and a lifetime of regrets?  Pick up the Bible, bow your head, ask for forgiveness and a fresh start because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

His love never quits… He won’t run out of mercies… He is always there.  So lift your chin… and lift your heart… and lift your hands… because He has new mercies for you today!

97%


“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… and… and…”. Oh, let’s face it… I either never really learned that little rhyme, or I’ve slept since then and forgotten it.

All I remembered about Christopher Columbus (until last week) was that he is credited with discovering North America… although he wasn’t really the first person to do so… and it really wasn’t what he was trying to accomplish.  But I learned more than ever before about this intriguing man’s life as we taught our boys about him last week.

We homeschool our boys currently.  Let me be more accurate… PR31 home educates our boys, and I pitch in to help in minutely small ways on occasion.  And she does a fabulous job teaching them.  (I wish I had had teachers that pretty and helpful.)  So it should be no surprise that I learned some new revelations about Christopher Columbus last week as she taught us… uh, I mean them.

One of the craziest facts I learned was that his crew almost mutinied on him, determined to turn back from their quest.   They had been at sea… with no land at all in sight… for two months.  This bunch of sailors had had enough.  It was tough enough to believe Columbus to begin with. But then to go this far and find nothing?  They thought Columbus had lost either his mind or his way.  Neither option was great. Afraid for their lives and tired of believing in something that did not seem to be real, they wanted to turn back.

Columbus worked his persuasive magic on them and convinced them to give him three more days.  Then, if they had not found land, he agreed to turn back with them.

It’s almost as if Columbus knew exactly what he was doing because on the evening of the second day, land was sighted!  And the rest is history.

But think about this… Those men had traveled two months to do something others could Barry even imagine, and yet they were prepared to give up… to turn back… to quit… when they were only two days away from achieving one of the greatest accomplishments of their time.

They had completed 97% of the journey when they were ready to give up.  They had done the hard part… the two months.  All they had to do was a little more… two days.  But because they couldn’t see their goal even through a spyglass  yet, their hearts were weary.

Perhaps today you are weary.  You’ve been trying to do the right thing… eat right and exercise… finish college… complete a project at work… remain pure in your relationships as you look for the love of a lifetime…find God’s will and plan for your life.  And you’re tired.  Tired of trying. Tired of not seeing the end result… the goal of your quest.

The Apostle Paul wrote to some people who felt like giving up and told them what Columbus told his crew and what I’m telling you today… Don’t give up!  You’re almost there.  The hardest part is behind you. Just a little more.  Stay on the journey, and you will soon find that you will be glad you did because your continued persistence… and commitment… and faithfulness  is going to pay off.  You’ll look back and say that you are sure glad you didn’t give up when you had 97% behind you and only 3% to go.

Don’t mutiny. Don’t turn back. Hoist the sails a few more times. Keep the spyglass to your eye.  I have a sense that land is not as far away as you might think!

For Someone Who Feels Hopeless

You’re not alone. Others have felt as hopeless as you feel right now.  You don’t have to walk through this alone.

Don’t give up.  Don’t quit. Don’t give up everything you’ve gained to this point.

Yes, life is worth fighting for. Yes, that relationship is worth fighting for.  Yes, that dream is worth fighting for.

You are loved… by God and by others in your life.

No matter what the voices keep whispering into your mind, you are valuable!  You count!  You matter!

As totally cheesy as it is, like the old saying goes… if you feel like you’ve gotten to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.  God has the other end of the rope, and He is lifting you up higher. So don’t give up!  There is hope!!!

For The Discouraged


Are you discouraged today?

Have things not worked out the way you had hoped? Does some problem linger unsolved? Is your relationship with that person you love keep falling apart instead being healed? Are you battling a sickness that seems to keep hanging on despite all the treatments?  Do you feel like you are going nowhere in your career? Does it seem like you are overlooked and not appreciated?

Maybe I didn’t mention the reason for your discouragement specifically, but you find yourself discouraged today nonetheless.  And you’re searching for anything at this moment which would give you hope.

Take heart. I prayed for you this morning around 8:15-8:20.  I didn’t know your name or your exact situation. But I felt prompted in my heart and mind to bring you to God’s attention.

And then He prompted me to let you know that He knows your name… your situation… your hurt… your weariness.  And He wants you to have courage.  Have courage in the fact that He is at work even if it doesn’t look like it right now. He has all power… all ability to fix what is broken… all knowledge of what others have done to you.

You may not think you have what it takes. That’s okay. You don’t have to. He’s got you covered.

You might say, “But Allen, I’m not a Jesus-follower. Surely God is not interested in helping me.  Why would He have you write this for me when I don’t even love Him or obey Him?” Simple… He loves you regardless. Let that give you even more courage today.

I’ll leave you with the verse from the graphic attached to this post.  It comes from the book of Joshua in the Bible, chapter 1 and verse 9.  Joshua was about to face one of the greatest challenges of his life, and the Lord spoke these words to him.  I believe He’s speaking them to your heart right now, too, as you read them…

This is My command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 | NLT)

A Little More

I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I tend to want to give up on DIY projects PR31 and I tackle.  Okay, I can confirm it… I just don’t want to.

It’s true… I have great intentions. Then the project gets more complicated… or takes longer than expected… or just ceases to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  The mundane and the minute details set in. And I just want to quit.

“Let’s just stop for now and go to bed.”

“Let’s just leave it at that point and pretend that was the look we were going for.”

Now, to give myself a small pat on the back, I have gotten a little better.  (Or I’ve learned not to tackle as many projects.)  But I’ve learned something from PR31…

At the point I want to give up, I’m much closer to being finished than when I began. And when I realize how much time, effort and energy I’ve already invested, the amount that is left to do seems small in comparison.

It would be like a runner getting to mile 25 of a marathon and wanting to quit. At that point, there is only 1.2 miles left.  If they will just press on, they will accomplish something very few people do.

It would be like tilling the ground, pulling the grass and weeds, planting seeds, watering, feeding plants… and then giving up because you haven’t been able to pick any veggies yet.

This is much easier when we’re talking DIY projects and running and gardening than it is when we’re talking about finishing writing a book… or finding the right person to marry… or overcoming an illness… or finding a job.  When these more serious tasks in life seem to drag on, we can get weary of doing the right things… We can want to quit.

But that’s not the time to quit!  C’mon… you’re further along now than when you began.  You’re almost there! Just a little more!  You can make it! Don’t stop now!  If you won’t give up, you’re closer than you’ve ever been to seeing that dream come true… that miracle take place… that project completed… that relationship restored.

Just a little more!  You can do it!!! He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion… if you won’t give up on Him.

Take a deep breath… get your second wind… get another sip of coffee… and see this thing through!  You’ll be glad you did!

Oh, It’s Gonna Happen

It’s like our six-year old, Austin, cannot even see the possibility of a negative outcome when he is wanting and believing for something.  He sees a toy or a game that he absolutely has to have, and he begins to tell us about it. As he describes it in detail, he says things like, “When I get it, I’m going to…” Not “if I get it,” but “when I get it.”

In his mind, there is no possible way we would say “no” to his request.  And it’s not a greed thing (though he has his moments… as do I). He is so innocent and full of faith in our ability to provide what he wants and our willingness to bring him joy.

He entered a contest today in which he has the possibility of winning an iPad mini.  In his mind, he has already won. He just has to wait for the contest to come to a close and receive his prize. He doesn’t even consider that there is a chance he won’t win.  He doesn’t consider that other kids might also have a chance to win. The odds mean nothing to him… because he is going to win.

Oh, that I would view my Heavenly Father with such childlike faith!  Oh, to be able to completely exclude any possibility that God would not answer my request.  Oh, that I would never view failure as a possible outcome, only success.

And yet, isn’t that what Jesus instructed His disciples to do… to have faith like a child? What a radical concept that must have been for them. What a radical concept it often is for me.

God is a good Father… way better than me. Surely, I can count on Him to come through for me. There is no reasonable explanation for my doubting. I will win! I will receive! I will be filled with joy… because He laughs with me… and loves me… and lavishes blessings on me.

Of course He does. Why would I think otherwise?

For the record, He feels exactly the same way about you. So put on your faith like Austin & believe for the best to come your way today!

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